Raja Ravi Varma : Painter of Colonial India

Rupika Chawla, Mapin Pub, 2018, 4th reprint, 360 p, 436 col. ills, ISBN : 9788189995089, $160.00 (Includes free airmail shipping)

Raja Ravi Varma : Painter of Colonial India/Rupika Chawla

Contents: Author's Note. 1. Private lives and the turn of the century. 2. The itinerant Varma brothers. 3. Cities and states. 4. Exploring the source. 5. Themes and preoccupations. 6. The image moves on. 7. A century looks back. 8. Painting the canvas. Notes. Index.

"Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906) was among the first Indian painters to successfully adapt academic realism to the visual interpretation of Indian mythology and adopt Western painting techniques of portraiture. His genre of paintings, which eventually led to chromolithographs (Oleographs), has maintained a lasting effect on the Indian sensibility, making him the best-known classical painter of modern times.

This book is an account of Ravi Varma's traditional background and environment in the context of colonial India, and the relationship of this milieu with his profession as an aristocratic itinerant painter. Many royal families of India and several rich and powerful personalities were patrons of Ravi Varma, whose portraits he painted in large numbers.

His range of Puranic and religious paintings, reflecting his deep understanding of Sanskrit and Malayalam Literature, have deeply influenced the forms of Gods and Goddesses in twentieth century visual culture of India. Ravi Varma's fascination for feminine beauty and the ability to capture it masterfully is abundantly evident in his numerous portrayals of Shakuntala, Sita and Damayanti, and of the Indian woman. His lingering influence on the Indian mindset is also seen in the works of Indian contemporary painters and artists, who continue to be inspired by his art.

This lavishly illustrated book brings together paintings from royal and private collections, and museums. It presents many woks that have never been seen before, along with previously undisclosed maps, letters, photographs and other archival material. It traces the sources used by Ravi Varma, examines the techniques and methodology of his paintings, and discussed their conservation and the problem of fakes and copies, much to the advantage of historians collectors, curators and art aficionados." (jacket)

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